Bill would exempt non-U.S. citizen commercial truck drivers from vaccine mandates
By BETHANY BLANKLEY
THE CENTER SQUARE CONTRIBUTOR
(The Center Square) — Florida’s former governor and current U.S. senator, Rick Scott, and eight other Republican senators introduced a bill to exempt all non-U.S. citizen commercial truck drivers from vaccination requirements as a condition to transport goods into the U.S.
It was filed one month after the Department of Homeland Security’s COVID-19 vaccine mandate for all foreign travelers entering the U.S. became effective Jan. 22.
Canada also began requiring proof of vaccination for all essential travelers, including truck drivers crossing the Canadian-U.S. border, on Jan. 15.
“Starting on Jan. 22, 2022, the Department of Homeland Security will require that non-U.S. individuals entering the United States via land ports of entry or ferry terminals along our Northern and Southern borders be fully vaccinated against COVID-19 and be prepared to show related proof of vaccination,” DHS Sec. Alejandro Mayorkas said when announcing the mandate. “These updated travel requirements reflect the Biden-Harris administration’s commitment to protecting public health while safely facilitating the cross-border trade and travel that is critical to our economy.”
Before the cross-border vaccine mandates were put in place last month, essential workers, including truck drivers, had been able to transport supplies to the U.S. freely crossing the border during nearly two years of the pandemic. Putting the mandate in place now, amid a supply chain crisis, doesn’t make any sense, critics argue.
Todd Spencer, president of the Owner-Operator Independent Drivers Association, said the senators introducing the bill was “an important effort to reverse an arbitrary mandate that has slowed the movement of freight across our borders and made the already difficult job of trucking even more challenging. Truckers are essential workers and federal policies should reflect the critical role they play in our daily lives.”
The Terminating Reckless and Unnecessary Checks Known to Erode Regular Shipping (TRUCKERS) Act would exempt non-U.S. citizen commercial truck drivers traveling from Canada or Mexico who are seeking to temporarily enter the U.S. for business through a land port of entry from proof of vaccination requirements.
Co-signers include Republican senators Marsha Blackburn of Tennessee, Mike Braun of Indiana, Josh Hawley of Missouri, Kevin Cramer and John Hoeven of North Dakota, Mike Lee of Utah, Roger Marshall of Kansas, and Marco Rubio, also from Florida.
“Truck drivers are the backbone of America’s economy. My dad was a truck driver and I know firsthand how critical these men and women are to getting products flowing to American families and businesses again,” Sen. Scott said. “President Biden’s inflation and supply chain crises are devastating so many Americans, especially our poorest families like mine growing up. By pushing these ridiculous mandates, he is only making things worse.
“The government has no business pushing mandates on families and our hardworking businesses and my TRUCKERS Act will help stop this nonsense in its tracks,” he added. “Joe Biden would be wise to take note of what’s happening in Canada and see that the top-down, ‘government controls all’ approach doesn’t work,” referring to the Freedom Convoy organized by Canadian truckers in protest of Canada’s ongoing mandates.
Sen. Scott also urged Canada’s government “to drop its ridiculous mandates on foreign drivers.”